Tag Archives: Karen

Karen

5 Aug

*Disclaimer* This post is going to start out heavy, as I describe the historical context, then get humorous (to some, hopefully most). 

 

Calling white, (are they always suburban or upper-middle class?) women “Karens” came about to describe this demographic’s (micro) aggressions towards those of “lessor” (as judged by the power structure in charge) societal standing, usually POC.  And it’s rooted in the history of violence against POC in the name of protecting white women.  White men, have often beat, maimed, tortured, and killed black men especially in the name of standing up for a white woman’s honor.  For example, here’s a summary (not mine) of the Emmitt Till case:

  1. There have been any number of versions of what happened — or didn’t happen — on a hot day of Aug. 24, 1955, in a small convenience store outside Money, Miss.  At one point, Till entered the store to buy a Coke.  The clerk in the store, a 21-year-old white woman named Carolyn Bryant later alleged Till had sassed her.  Some versions said he tried to flirt with Bryan, or that he boasted of having white girl friends back in Chicago, or that he touched her, or he may have wolf-whistled at her.  Whatever happened, Bryant subsequently told her husband and his brother-in-law about the interaction – or someone did.  Four days after Till entered that store, Bryant’s husband, Roy, and J.W. Milam, in the dead of night went to the home of Till great-uncle, where Till was staying, and took him away.  They drove around with the child in Bryant’s truck and eventually dragged him into a barn where they set upon him.  They beat Till, gouged out one of his eyes, tied him to a 75-pound cotton gin fan, shot him in the head and dumped his body into the Tallahatchie River.  When he did not return home the uncle’s house, Till was reported as missing.  Bryant and Milam were interviewed by deputies and acknowledged taking Till away, although they swore when they last saw him he was alive.  Unusually for that time and that place, the two were arrested and charged with kidnapping.  Three days later, Till’s mutilated and bloated body was recovered from the river.  The body was sent home to Chicago, where Till’s mother, Mamie Till Bailey, demanded the casket be open so mourners who filed past it could see what hate had done to her child.  Jet magazine printed a photograph of the body, further arousing indignation over the killing [I didn’t put it here, but it’s easily searchable].  The crime was so heinous even the white authorities in Mississippi were moved to condemn the killing.  Bryant and Milam were charged with murder and stood trial in September, 1955.  After the end of five days of testimony – including the defense claim Till’s body was so wounded it was impossible to say with certainty it was in fact Till – the all-white jury returned a not guilty verdict after less than an hour’s deliberations.  Bryant and Milam were freed.  The next year they gave a paid interview to Look magazine in which they freely admitted murdering Till.  What followed was a long, slow decline marked by arrests for various crimes, and their eventual deaths, both from cancer, Milam in 1980 and Bryant in 1994.  Carolyn Bryant, having divorced Roy, faded from memory until 2017.  Then, a Duke University professor who had written a book on the murder, revealed that Bryant (who had re-married) in an interview for the book admitted she had lied about the interaction with Emmett Till.  “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him,” Bryant was quoted in an excerpt in Vanity Fair as saying she “felt tender sorrow” for Till’s mother, who died in 2003.  

 

There is nothing funny about that.  And it makes sense that it’s women who are being called out on social media for being a “Karen” because it is specific to the above described behavior.  And that white woman playing the victim card needs to cease, because it can cause real harm.  Here’s a current example:

      2. When Amy Cooper, a white woman, called 911 from an isolated patch in Central Park where she was standing with her unleashed dog on Memorial Day, she said an “African-American man”              was threatening her, emphasizing his race to the operator.  Moments before Ms. Cooper made the call, the man, Christian Cooper, an avid bird-watcher, had asked her to leash her dog, and              she had refused.

 

I am sure everyone encountered on that story on social media.  It just goes to show those that don’t study history are doomed to repeat it.  Also socialization is firmly entrenched.  This present day Karen has brought about a lot of throwing the name about.  Have a mask tantrum?  Karen.  Ask to speak to a manager?  Karen.  Write something somebody disagrees with on Twitter?  Karen.  It’s getting a overused, I’d say.  And not just to describe the specific, problematic behaviors in the above two scenarios.  It’s becoming a catch-all term for white women.  And racially, I think that is fair.  Honestly.  White women have pretty much stayed under the radar (as far as I know) when it comes to troublesome race relations.  It’s time we accept that our fair skin allows us to walk through life with a certain privilege.  That said, I don’t like the current overuse of Karen when it is more along the lines of calling out any white female for speaking out.  Even when she’s right.  Even when she has a point.  Using “Karen” to shame women into submission is not addressing the issue at hand, and it’s backward misogyny.  Because let’s face it, there are plenty of problematic privileged behaviors white men display too.  Not all the white men are actively doing the murdering atrocious crimes these days.  Some of the men are also participating in microaggressions.  All of us need to be educated on our privilege and the ways we can use it for good or evil.  And both sexes need to do better.  So I am petitioning for us to also call out those Chads and Spencers for their shitty actions also, so it doesn’t become just another misogynistic slur against women.

The historical context of “Karen” is important to know.  And now you have a superficial overview, and I encourage all my readers to delve more deeply into the race, class, privilege, and sex regarding the topic.  The rest of this post I’m going to talk about the lighter (no pun intended), more jokey side to this “Karen” phenomenon.

Have you ever noticed sometimes it’s Karen and sometimes it’s Becky?  My mate and I decided every age range has its own Karen-type name.  I think there’s a list online, but purely as a thought experiment and for funs-z-fun my mate and I brainstormed names.  And not ones to be sexist, we paired each Karen with it’s male counterpart.  Then we realized not everyone is middle-upper-class, there are also lower class white people (unkindly known as white trash or trailer trash), and they have their own sets of names.  Here’s the list we came up with:

child:         

$-Female = McKayla           

$-Male = Ayden                   

Poor-female = Candy               

Poor-Male = Ryker

teen-20s:   

$-Female = Becky                

$-Male = Dillon                     

Poor-female = Tonya               

Poor-Male = Colt

30-40s:       

$-Female = Karen               

$-Male = Spencer                 

Poor-female = Tammy             

Poor-Male = Rodney

40s-60:       

$-Female = Susan               

$-Male = Chad                     

Poor-female = Rhonda           

Poor-Male = Wyatt

 

Let us know if we got it right.

 

 

Sources:

  1. https://www.middletownpress.com/middletown/article/A-slaying-that-haunts-America-Emmett-Till-13814421.php
  2. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/06/nyregion/amy-cooper-false-report-charge.html

Little Fires Everywhere Review (Spoilers)

8 Jun

*Karen = Reece Witherspoon’s character

 

Mia’s attitude sucks.  She is rude the entire time.  The hostility boils barely beneath the surface–I wouldn’t have anything to do with her based on that demeanor alone.  The character is totally unlikable, snarling and growling her way through pretty much the entire series.

I think one of Karen’s biggest mistakes is not listening to her own gut feelings.  She shouldn’t have rented to Mia.  If I (as a white person) was looking for housing and it was a year lease, but I wanted month to month–they would tell me no.  Karen should not have felt white guilt and stuck to policy.  Also, hiring your tenant as house-help is a terrible idea–for both women.  It puts Karen in an awkward position if the renting doesn’t go well, or if the house-manager job doesn’t go well.  And it is a horrible idea for Mia to allow one person to be in charge of her housing and income.

I knew Mia would have a back-story.  I thought maybe she was raped, maybe Pearl’s dad was stalking them so they were running, or she had some sort of criminal charge she was on the lamb about.  But by the time the series finally revealed Mia’s background, it was already too late, I couldn’t overcome my dislike for the character.  The order of the episodes matters!  Maybe if her past was revealed sooner, I could have had empathy.  But as it was, the background wasn’t compelling enough to justify all her poor decisions and surly attitude.

When Mia says, “You know how to advocate for yourself.”  As if it’s not her responsibility as a parent to step in and make sure Pearl gets in the appropriate math class.

Mia wants

Mia’s professor is way out of line!  Taking coke in front of a student–offering it to the student.  Sleeping with a student.  That lack of boundaries and the power dynamic is predatory, and I didn’t care for it.

The author/screen writer didn’t make Mia’s dreams clear enough.  I thought she was having PTSD and that Pearl was a child of rape until I found out Mia was just afraid of being discovered.

Karen comes off as hyper-controlling, but it’s actually Mia who is the controlling one.  Mia controls when her and Pearl move and where they go.  She continuously says Pearl belongs to her, which never sat well with me.  She controls the length of the lease.  She takes a nonsense job she doesn’t want to control Pearl at Karen’s house.  Mia takes control of her coworker’s life, and baby search even though it’s none of her business, and they only knew each other for 3 months.  Mia controls what kind of life, and what luxuries Pearl gets–to the point she doesn’t sell art for Pearl’s life, but will sell it to pay her coworker’s lawyer fees.  Mia controls when Izzy can come by to do art.  Mia talks suggestively about fire and new beginnings to impressionable and angry Izzy–then sends her right home.  Mia is the one pulling the strings the entire series-yet she gets the better treatment of the 2 main characters.  I think Mia is a sociopath.

I didn’t understand why Pearl choose Trip over Moody.  She had a lot of fun and quality time with Moody.  He was intellectually on her level.  He treated her nice.  She tells her mom Trip is easy and dumb, so I don’t get why she threw away her relationship with Moody for his brother.  Though I did like Izzy’s point to Moody that just because he likes Pearl, and just because he’s nice to her, doesn’t mean Pearl owes him anything, and it doesn’t mean he owns her.  I liked the message, but I think the author went against Pearl’s character to set up the situation to have Izzy say that quote and to bring Moody down a  couple of notches.  It’s not really consistent writing.

Mia made the decision to steal the baby she was carrying as a surrogate.  And she didn’t even have the courage to tell the parents that she was backing out of their deal (or to give back a portion of the money).  It’s ethically, and contractually wrong, but the author never punishes her, Mia is treated like a hero.

The author actually punishes most of the mothers, which I did not like.  Karen was punished for giving up her fiance’ because he decided he wanted a travel career instead of kids.  She was punished for putting her family first and having a part-time job at a small publication, and for living her life for her kids.  The adoptive couple were treated as pretentious, insensitive and less-than, even though they wanted kids so badly, and loved the baby for the 1st year.  The surrogate family was treated as an inconvenience to Mia and Pearl’s story.  Bebe had a more sympathetic story line, but also was questioned for being poor, illegal, and single.  The author has peculiar and stringent ideals about motherhood, instead of accepting all types of mothers and situations as legitimate.

I didn’t think any character was likable, and I don’t think any one of them took accountability.  But not all of them were punished for that.

Mia and Lexie were my 2 least favorite characters.

Karen got a bad deal.  Yeah, I said it, and I stand by it.